Established in Works?

2 Thessalonians 2:13-17 (ESV)

But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the firstfruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth. To this he called you through our gospel, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter. Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.

Paul here is shifting gears. He had just tried to encourage the church due to their worry that they had missed the Great and Terrible Day of The Lord. (We will cover that this week on Thursday Theology).

Paul rejoices with the church of Thessalonica, for they have learned the lessons that they (Timothy, Silas, and Paul) taught them, and they demonstrated love for one another above most churches.

Adam Clarke says in his Bible Commentary:

God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation, etc.—In your calling, God has shown the purpose that he had formed from the beginning, to call the Gentiles to the same privileges with the Jews, not through circumcision, and the observance of the Mosaic law, but by faith in Christ Jesus; but this simple way of salvation referred to the same end—holiness, without which no man, whether Jew or Gentile, can see the Lord.

Let us observe the order of Divine grace in this business:

1. They were to hear the truth—the doctrines of the Gospel.

2. They were to believe this truth when they heard it preached.

3. They were to receive the Spirit of God in believing the truth.

4. That Spirit was to sanctify their souls-produce an inward holiness, which was to lead to all outward conformity to God.

5. All this constituted their salvation—their being fitted for the inheritance among the saints in light.

6. They were to obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ—that state of felicity for which they were fitted, by being saved here from their sins, and by being sanctified by the Spirit of God.

Note that Paul said at the end of this passage, that his hope is that Jesus would comfort their hearts, and establish them in every good work and word. I believe he would concur with what Adam Clarke is saying here about the holiness that is required. Yet the holiness of God is not by our doing, but rather by being responsive to the leading of the Holy Spirit. It does manifest itself by us doing good works, but as James said in his epistle, the works are evidence of our salvation, not the means to it. It is all and always about faith.

As we begin our work week, let us be aware of our works. Let us ensure that we are responsive to the leading of the Holy Spirit, and give glory to Him and to the Lord Jesus, and Our Heavenly Father, that what we do and who we are, please Him. After all, this is what will lead others to God, our good works, brought on by faith and in response to God.

by Virgil Stripes

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